A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast by Hemingway is largely based on the themes of hunger and feasting. These two aspects bring out the overview of the title. Indeed the book is filled with lots of descriptions of eating and hunger. The title of the memoir is a literal meaning of a moveable feast which was a holy day which did not have a specific slot in the calendar, rather, it kept changing every year. More generally, eating and drinking are symbols happiness and enjoyment in society. Thus, Hemingway has explored these concepts to bring out his ideas in this book. This article is concerned about the significance of eating and drinking as depicted in the title.

The vivid description of food in the book depicts the Parisian culture. Because the memoir is set in Paris, aspects of the Paris culture is explored in the manner of their eating and feasting. According to their culture, food has to be prepared perfectly well to bring out the intended taste. (Sindelar 125) Hemingway, not wanting to disappoint the readers, has offered to give very detailed descriptions of the food and drinks served. This is in a bid to ensure that the reader gets exactly the accurate mental picture of the meals served. Therefore, the detailed descriptions about food and drink are floated to promote the celebration elicited by mealtimes in the Parisian culture.

The vivid description of drinking and feasting are also presented to bring about aspects of imagery in the memoir. When scenes are well described, the reader gets carried away especially when the description is about food which is a basic necessity in life. A reader going through the text would easily relate or identify with aspects being described in the text. Thus through the descriptions, the author has achieved the aspect of making the text appealing to the audience. This is coupled with the fact that the very scenes are the building units to the themes being explored.

Alcohol is also depicted as a vital necessity for pleasure without which one has an incomplete life. From the descriptions given, it comes out that Hemingway is already addicted so much to alcohol that he cannot do without it (Stamant 73). Such is exemplified in instances where he skips meals because there is no alcohol. According to him, there is no way he is going to enjoy a meal without the appeal of alcohol but because he cannot afford both, he decides to go hungry. He argues that alcohol in Europe is a normal and healthy part of life, thus an indispensable necessity. It is no wonder that most of the scenes in this book occur at bars and cafes with alcohol being a major stimulant to keeping conversations going.

Alcohol drinking is also associated with creativity in the text. According to Hemingway, people who drink excessively are very creative. To sustain creativity, drugs like opioids are also administered. Citing his example, he notes that he is much more creative while a little bit drunk than while sober and thus can write creatively when drunk. Hemingway defends his drinking as a means of boosting intelligence.

However, alcohol is also awarded a negative connotation. Gertrude is particularly vexed by the excessive drinking that Hemingway and all other men of his age engage in. According to her, it inhibits their ability to engage in constructive activities. This is typified in the case of Scott and Zelda who are heavy drinkers. Scott cannot work well because of the interruptions arising from Zelda. The two are therefore in constant conflict. Additionally, as a result of drinking, a lot of physical defects is reported on most of the drinkers. In this sense, Hemingway presents the theme of “a lost generation.” This is because alcohol inhibits their ability to reason and undertake routine activities like other individuals who do not drink.

As far as eating is concerned, Hemingway brings out the connection between eating and art. Accordingly, the consumption of art and that of food go hand in hand. That is probably why most of the discussions about art come at mealtime. Although Hemingway lives in poverty and thus cannot afford food and drinks at the same time, he is stimulated by hunger to think of ways out of the situation. When the food and drink are finally brought on the table, he is much more creative and productive than ever before. Thus, hunger and consumption themes come out very perfectly in this memoir.


The “A Moveable Feast” memoir by Hemingway presents the themes of creativity, addiction, and culture. These themes are all brought about by drinking and eating habits and behaviors. Eating and drinking are presented as part and parcel of the Parisian culture. On the other end, there very high levels of creativity that are elicited particularly when the participants are drunk or during eating. However, the author does not fail to mention the negative consequences of drinking. Excessive drinking has brought about conflicts and unproductivity in the memoir.

Works cited

Sindelar, Nancy W. “‘A Moveable Feast' Exhibition by The Oak Park Art League.” The    Hemingway Review, vol. 36, no. 1, 2016, pp. 120–126., doi:10.1353/hem.2016.0029.

Stamant, Nicole. “Hemingway's Hospitality in A Moveable Feast.” The Hemingway Review,        vol. 33, no. 1, 2013, pp. 73–78., doi:10.1353/hem.2013.0030.

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